Jewish apathy, Jewish privilege and antisemitism – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on July 25, 2020

At a meeting on Monday of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, participants bemoaned the condition of world Jewry. The discussion centered on the implementation of a plan approved earlier this month by the Israeli government to protect Jewish communities abroad from extinction.We are swimming against the current, said Diaspora Affairs Ministry Director-General Dvir Kahana, claiming that 80% of Jews outside of Israel live comfortably and feel no connection to their Judaism.Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch concurred that large segments of our nation are moving away from their Jewish identity and from Israel, warning, We have to wake up before its too late.Aside from the fact that the discussion itself is as old as the hills, and that the plan involves education and outreach not exactly an innovative concept it comes on the heels of reports that the COVID-19 pandemic is spurring many Jews to consider immigrating to Israel. Some are even in the actual process of doing so, though it means entering quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in the Holy Land.So the pandemic may be doing more to encourage aliyah than any educational program requiring multi-millions in taxpayer shekels. And the last thing that Israelis have on their minds at this moment is funding greater competition in the work force. Indeed, the economic pressure felt by those who have lost their jobs, and by small business-owners whose enterprises are in jeopardy as a result of coronavirus closures, is not conducive to a sense of Jewish unity.Israelis are human, after all. Not that theyre acting like it these days, mind you, engaging in violent riots more reminiscent of tantrums than expressions of political malaise. Such mob behavior is something to which American Jews have grown accustomed of late. Yet only those who wish to escape the cancel-culture chaos would consider Israel a welcome alternative.In other words, the Jews who might contemplate relocating to Israel are not in need of programs aimed at keeping them connected to Judaism or the Jewish state. They already possess religious and/or emotional ties to their heritage and homeland.The rest are either radicals who wholeheartedly back the Black Lives Matter agenda to discredit the United States for having been born in sin, or liberal Democrats whose main goal is to defeat US President Donald Trump in November.The former, who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, is openly anti-Israel. The latter tend to be critical of the policies of the government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and interpret the Mishnaic concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world) as a mission of social, political and environmental justice: to rid the planet of racism, capitalism and fossil fuels.THE IDEA that any sort of Israeli program could bring such people closer to their Judaism and Israel is laughable, particularly since those who do care about being Jewish are livid about the Orthodox rabbinates monopoly on Israels official stream of Judaism.But even Diaspora Jews in the first category those whose connection to Judaism and Israel is unconditional are not quick to pick up and move their families to a foreign country in which their language skills are basic at best, and where the likelihood of their earning a comparable living is slim.Though hundreds of thousands of Israelis have left the Jewish state for greener pastures abroad and have had to undergo the adjustments of language and culture that such a move entails they did so, at least, with an eye toward upward mobility. The same cannot be said of Zionists going in the other direction.Anyone who examines Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora without taking the importance of financial stability into account is making a grave mistake. Nor should the fact that most Jews outside of Israel live comfortably be viewed as an obstacle to overcome, rather than a blessing to be hailed.Its like believing that the only hope for the preservation of Jewish identity and continuity without drastic action on Israels part is for Jews in secular Western societies to be persecuted and live in poverty. While this is possibly a sad truth, its not a position that an official from the Diaspora Affairs Ministry ought to hold, especially not one angling for a budget.After all, if antisemitism is the solution, Israel can sit back and save its money, since Jew-hatred, like the coronavirus, is spreading exponentially. Not only that; the coronavirus is helping it spread by providing additional ammunition to the already overflowing blood-libel arsenal.The Palestinian Authority is prominent among many disseminators of the lie that Israel has been infecting poor Arabs with the disease. Like the PA and Hamas propagandists in Ramallah and Gaza whose creativity when it comes to portraying Netanyahu and IDF soldiers as Nazis is as explosive as rockets on Israeli civilians the powers-that-be in Tehran took the opportunity of the pandemic to promote the antisemitic arts. In April, for instance, the Iranian Health Ministry sponsored a COVID-19 cartoon competition that produced an array of colorful drawings depicting Jews as corona microbes.Social media, too, is rife with antisemitism. Much of this Jew-bashing is related not to the virus, but to Black Lives Matter. We Jews, it turns out, have a double stain on our souls. Yes, we are guilty of both white privilege and Jewish privilege.Apparently, no amount of self-flagellation or solidarity with the Black Lives Matter platform gives even the most progressive Jews a pass where their innate evil is concerned. Offended Twitter users around the world responded to the #Jewish privilege campaign by posting memes and comments to prove the accusation false. The only problem is that antisemites arent interested in evidence of Jewish innocence.THAT BRINGS us to the most notable aspect of Israels concern about world Jewry, on the one hand, and the spike in global antisemitism, on the other.According to data presented to the Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee, Israels 6,740,000 Jews make up 45% nearly half of the world total, which stands at 14,410,700. The next largest Jewish population is in North America, where the number is 6,088,000. Europe has 1,072,400; South America is home to 324,000; there are 300,000 in Asia; Australia and New Zealand have 120,000; and 74,000 reside in Africa.These figures reveal, first and foremost, that Israel is the country with the largest Jewish population, which should be cause for celebration, not mourning. They also show that the vast majority of Diaspora Jews are in the United States, where antisemitism may be gaining momentum but is minimal compared to that of Europe.Again, its good news for a people who was nearly wiped out by genocide a mere 75 years ago. Whatever one feels about the danger that assimilation poses to Jewish continuity, though, juxtaposing it with mass murder is immoral.Another picture painted by the statistics illustrates just how irrational antisemitism which the late historian Robert Wistrich called the longest hatred is and always has been. Jews constitute the most minuscule percentage of the worlds population, less than 2/10ths of 1%. The obsession with Jews and the Jewish state, then, makes no sense, especially if the Diaspora is disappearing voluntarily.This is one of the most intriguing features of the antisemitism that became so rampant in Europe before the Holocaust, and which was a main cause of it, Wistrich explained in a 2007 interview in these pages. What turned the antisemitism that had its profane banal explanations, such as economics and social rivalry, into something lethal was precisely the fact that Jews had assimilated so intensely.It was because of this assimilation, he said, that the traditional antisemitism that had been based on religion no longer had the same effect or resonance. Recourse was made, then, to an argument against which there is no defense, namely race. You cannot change your race; even conversion cant help you. A Jew remains a Jew under all circumstances, whether he is baptized, becomes totally assimilated or rejects any residual Jewish identity.Ironically, Wistrich added, The fact that Jews were willing to sacrifice their identity made things even worse. It confirmed in the minds of the antisemites that there was nothing to be valued in Judaism or Jewishness. After all, if these Jews are so eager to abandon it, what value can it have?Yankelevitch can shout all she wants that we have to wake up before its too late, but she would do well to realize that the only ones listening are already out of bed.

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Jewish apathy, Jewish privilege and antisemitism - The Jerusalem Post

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